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Seeking the Common Good: A New Social Contract in America Catholic Social Ministry Gathering Charity in Truth: Seeking the Common Good February 8, 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "Seeking the Common Good: A New Social Contract in America Catholic Social Ministry Gathering Charity in Truth: Seeking the Common Good February 8, 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 Seeking the Common Good: A New Social Contract in America Catholic Social Ministry Gathering Charity in Truth: Seeking the Common Good February 8, 2010 Ray Boshara Vice President & Senior Fellow New America Foundation

2 Let me describe an era to you... Rapid technological change Rapid technological change Stunning advances in science Stunning advances in science Rising fundamentalism Rising fundamentalism Gaping inequality Gaping inequality Double-digit unemployment Double-digit unemployment Networks of violent non-state actors Networks of violent non-state actors Parents fretting over the quality and safety of food Parents fretting over the quality and safety of food A health care system in crisis A health care system in crisis Massive consolidation among corporations Massive consolidation among corporations A new era of infectious disease A new era of infectious disease New mediums spreading violent and obscene images New mediums spreading violent and obscene images Well organized lobby on behalf of spending on the elderly Well organized lobby on behalf of spending on the elderly Widespread, nefarious lending practices and rising debt levels among the middle class Widespread, nefarious lending practices and rising debt levels among the middle class Development of massive, lower-cost energy sources, and mounting concerns about the environment. Development of massive, lower-cost energy sources, and mounting concerns about the environment. Sound familiar? Progressive Era – about a 30 year period beginning in the deep recession of the early 1890s. Sound familiar? Progressive Era – about a 30 year period beginning in the deep recession of the early 1890s.

3 Now let me tell you some of what they achieved … Seriously reduced the role of money in politics Seriously reduced the role of money in politics Reformed the health care system Reformed the health care system Dramatically reduced rates of infectious disease Dramatically reduced rates of infectious disease Tamed the drug industry Tamed the drug industry Created a regulatory regime for Wall Street and the banking sector that prevented any need for massive taxpayer bailouts Created a regulatory regime for Wall Street and the banking sector that prevented any need for massive taxpayer bailouts This included the Federal Reserve Act, one of the most enduring of all Progressive reforms This included the Federal Reserve Act, one of the most enduring of all Progressive reforms Stopped predatory lending Stopped predatory lending Enacted the Pure Food & Drug Act, and the consumer safety movement. Enacted the Pure Food & Drug Act, and the consumer safety movement. Instituted the federal, progressive income tax system Instituted the federal, progressive income tax system Forestalled the growth of terrorism and rationalized immigration Forestalled the growth of terrorism and rationalized immigration Engineered a massive conversion to cleaner, cheaper energy Engineered a massive conversion to cleaner, cheaper energy Restored public trust in government Restored public trust in government Ended child labor, gave women the right to vote Ended child labor, gave women the right to vote Revamped public schools Revamped public schools Installed an ethic of thrift, conservation and public service Installed an ethic of thrift, conservation and public service Universalized high school education Universalized high school education Left no legacy of public debt Left no legacy of public debt Launched the social work profession through Jane Addams, Ellen Gates Starr, Hull Houses Launched the social work profession through Jane Addams, Ellen Gates Starr, Hull Houses

4 The Next Progressive Era, The Next Social Contract? Our economic, social, cultural, demographic, and environmental conditions are similar - but could we achieve what they achieved? At the very least, what could we learn from them? Our economic, social, cultural, demographic, and environmental conditions are similar - but could we achieve what they achieved? At the very least, what could we learn from them? Once-in-a-century transformation, promise and peril - The Next Progressive Era? Once-in-a-century transformation, promise and peril - The Next Progressive Era? Mark Twain is said to have observed that history does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes. Mark Twain is said to have observed that history does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes. Hegel: The Owl of Minerva flies only at dusk. We can understand an era only at the end of it. Hegel: The Owl of Minerva flies only at dusk. We can understand an era only at the end of it. Americas social contract up for negotiation, always following an era of stunning industrial, technological, and demographic change. Three major social contracts so far- Americas social contract up for negotiation, always following an era of stunning industrial, technological, and demographic change. Three major social contracts so far- First – followed founding of republic, small-scale owners, yeoman farmers First – followed founding of republic, small-scale owners, yeoman farmers Second – followed 1 st industrial revolution, led to Progressive Era Second – followed 1 st industrial revolution, led to Progressive Era Third – followed 2 nd industrial revolution, led to New Deal Third – followed 2 nd industrial revolution, led to New Deal Fourth – what social contract follows the 3 rd industrial revolution?? Fourth – what social contract follows the 3 rd industrial revolution?? In other words, were still living with the social contract established in the 1930s – a monumental achievement, but one that no longer reflects the globalized, information-rich, flexible, and mobile world in which we live. In other words, were still living with the social contract established in the 1930s – a monumental achievement, but one that no longer reflects the globalized, information-rich, flexible, and mobile world in which we live.

5 What do I mean by Progressive? The term has changed much over time 1912 election – Republican William Taft, Democrat Woodrow Wilson, Progressive Bull Mouse Party candidate Teddy Roosevelt all competed to be the best progressive. Wilson, of course, prevailed. Can you imagine Glenn Beck, or Sarah Palin today calling themselves a progressive? Many liberals or Democrats claim to be progressive, but it means many things, a confused term, and for many, not a positive one. Original vision: Back then it was meant to protect a way of life – the independent producer, the owner, the business man, the yeoman farmer, and the community from forces beyond ones control. That word dropped out of national lexicon when, in the 30s, the consumer became the ideal America – an era that is coming to an end. Today: A government that promotes opportunity, financial independence, strong families and communities, and a fair playing field. Larger economic and corporate forces need to be restrained and regulated to keep the playing field fair so that families and communities have a fair shot at economic independence. Not big or small government – whatever size is necessary to realize this vision.

6 Symptoms of Our Broken Contract Current recession reflects the end of an economic era – the American consumer as the engine of economic growth Current recession reflects the end of an economic era – the American consumer as the engine of economic growth Pope Benedicts concerns – downsized social security systems, pensions, and safety nets; unfair trade regimes, poverty, inequality, etc, Pope Benedicts concerns – downsized social security systems, pensions, and safety nets; unfair trade regimes, poverty, inequality, etc, Zero net job creation between , current double-digit unemployment Zero net job creation between , current double-digit unemployment 47 million American uninsured 47 million American uninsured Modern monopolies Modern monopolies Income and wealth inequality – growth not shared broadly. Rewards to owners of capital, not to labor Income and wealth inequality – growth not shared broadly. Rewards to owners of capital, not to labor Declining real wages last 35 years Declining real wages last 35 years Stagnant or declining economic mobility Stagnant or declining economic mobility Poverty – especially child poverty, poverty by race Poverty – especially child poverty, poverty by race Alarming rates of teen pregnancies and non-marital births Alarming rates of teen pregnancies and non-marital births

7 Our Moment Not an apologist for the Era, and clearly some of their moral reforms – like prohibition – overreached. And some of their public health accomplishments led to the commercialization of medicine, which were still suffering from today. Not an apologist for the Era, and clearly some of their moral reforms – like prohibition – overreached. And some of their public health accomplishments led to the commercialization of medicine, which were still suffering from today. But our economic, social, cultural, demographic, and environmental conditions are similar – but could we achieve what theyve achieved? At the very least, what could we learn from them? But our economic, social, cultural, demographic, and environmental conditions are similar – but could we achieve what theyve achieved? At the very least, what could we learn from them? Mark Twain is said to have observed that history does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes. Lets hope so. Mark Twain is said to have observed that history does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes. Lets hope so. I begin this way to demonstrate we are undergoing a once-in-a-century transformation that holds great peril but offers equally tantalizing – and achievable -- opportunity for reforms, to usher in what Phil Longman, and I call The Next Progressive Era. I begin this way to demonstrate we are undergoing a once-in-a-century transformation that holds great peril but offers equally tantalizing – and achievable -- opportunity for reforms, to usher in what Phil Longman, and I call The Next Progressive Era. This is the time to think big, to rewrite the rules of engagement, to re-make many of the core elements of our social contract – the deal between citizens, employers, non-profits, and government. This is the time to think big, to rewrite the rules of engagement, to re-make many of the core elements of our social contract – the deal between citizens, employers, non-profits, and government. Following the Scott Brown election, lagging process on health care reform, energy, climate change, the housing market, reducing the deficit and debt and, of course, restarting the economy, many say those hopes have been dashed. Following the Scott Brown election, lagging process on health care reform, energy, climate change, the housing market, reducing the deficit and debt and, of course, restarting the economy, many say those hopes have been dashed. Were all humbled by this –but not without hope. We come with a new vision, new themes, and new policy ideas for a progressive era. Were all humbled by this –but not without hope. We come with a new vision, new themes, and new policy ideas for a progressive era.

8 Charity in Truth – Also a Defining Moment Rerum novarum Published in 1891, at dawn of Progressive Era Similar concerns (industrialization, exploited workers, etc) inspired both Pope Leo XIII and Progressive Era reformers But Catholic leaders wanted Progressive Era reforms in the context of a larger, moral version of the human person. Huge impact in the Church, on the U.S –rights of workers, wages, unions, larger social conditions. Caritas in veritate Pope Benedict sees a similar defining moment today -- and similar concerns about economic reforms lacking a larger, moral vision and context The current crisis obliges us to re-plan our journey, to set ourselves new rules…the crisis thus becomes an opportunity for discernment, in which to shape a new vision for the future. (p. 21) The risk of our time is that the de facto interdependence of people and nations is not matched by ethical interaction of conscience and minds (p. 7) Caritas in veritate – 6 concerns Downsizing of SS systems Hunger Respect for life Denial of religious freedom Rights of workers Trade must be fair Capital vs. Labor tension – at heart of Rerum Novarum, central tension today as well. New capital-labor dynamic requires the state to forge a new social contract, to re-allocate risk: The State finds itself having to address the limitations of its sovereignty imposed by the new context of international trade and finance, which is characterized by increasing mobility both of financial capital and means of production. It seems more realistic to re-evaluate the States role and its powers, to remodel them to address the challenges of todays world. Primary capital to be safeguarded and valued is man, the human person in his or her integrity.

9 Our Response Opportunity and need for new social contract are immense Opportunity and need for new social contract are immense However, following the Scott Brown election, lagging process on health care reform, energy, climate change, the housing market, reducing the deficit, endless political gridlock, and, of course, restarting the economy, many say those hopes for a new social contract, new progressive era, or Charity in Truth have been dashed. However, following the Scott Brown election, lagging process on health care reform, energy, climate change, the housing market, reducing the deficit, endless political gridlock, and, of course, restarting the economy, many say those hopes for a new social contract, new progressive era, or Charity in Truth have been dashed. Were humbled, but not without hope. Need new vision for government, new themes, new policy ideas, and new kinds of coalitions. Were humbled, but not without hope. Need new vision for government, new themes, new policy ideas, and new kinds of coalitions. We can look back for inspiration and guidance, to Christian and Catholic leaders from the 1 st part of the last century who seized opportunity amidst economic and social upheaval, who were neither democrats or republicans, but true to causes and promoting life, justice and the common good. We can look back for inspiration and guidance, to Christian and Catholic leaders from the 1 st part of the last century who seized opportunity amidst economic and social upheaval, who were neither democrats or republicans, but true to causes and promoting life, justice and the common good. Progressive era theologian Walter Rauschenbusch, to live a Christ-like life. "Christianity is in its nature revolutionary" and reminded society of that.Progressive era theologian Walter Rauschenbusch, to live a Christ-like life. "Christianity is in its nature revolutionary" and reminded society of that. Monsignor John Ryan, who grew up in the Progressive Era, who railed against the Gospel of Consumption, gave life to the idea of the living wage, and whose impact on the New Deal was so profound he was called Monsignor New Deal. Bishops 1919 Social Reconstruction Program, with John Ryans leadership, had an enormous impact on the shape of New Deal legislation.

10 Five New Ideas For a New Social Contract Consistent with Catholic Social Teaching – promote human dignity, subsidiarity, solidarity, participation, and the common good Deeply informed by Caritas in veritate Job creation, yes, especially in those sectors where employment is likely to grow – healthcare, education and local public services But job creation alone is not enough to thrive in the 21 st century economy. Let us: 1. 1.Develop producers, not just consumers. Can we be defined by what we produce, not by just we consume? By what we give, not by just we take? 2. 2.Build assets, not just income. Property ownership is a long tradition is the U.S. Once dominant, now recessive gene in our DNA. Assets are key to participating in 21 st century economy Create entrepreneurs, not just employees. Entrepreneurs are of course the engine of job creation. We ended the decade from with zero net job creation because we didnt create enough new jobs Promote thrift – in the broadest possible sense, a new ethic of conservation applied broadly Build institutions, not just lives. One of the reasons Progressive Era reforms were successful and endured is because they built institutions.

11 What You Can Do Go to Capitol Hill Pioneer new ideas, peek over the horizon Wisconsin idea – little did they know that their innovations would become a model for the New Deal. Nor did Jane Addams know that when she and Ellen Gates Starr started the Hull House in Chicago in 1889, it would lead to the creation of 500 settlement houses over the following 30 years. Do great, pioneering work – but make sure others know about it: Capitol Hill, media, funders, your Bishop, Ralph McCloud, Rev. Larry Snyder, Candy Hill, John and Kathy, others.

12 Conclusion As we construct the next social contract, let us heed the main messages of Caritas in veritate (Love in Truth). We have both a personal and collective responsibility to promote the common good. Getting globalization and our economy right isnt just a technical matter, its a moral one. Justice alone is not enough. Justice must be a manifestation of love.


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